By  on February 1, 2010

NEW YORK — Coach is turning to men’s wear.

The accessories and leather goods company will open its first men’s-only store at 370 Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village in May. The 550-square-foot unit will be in a former Ruehl space and will be adjacent to the company’s Legacy women’s boutique.

“We see men’s as a global growth opportunity and the opening of this store is an essential component in building our share in this category,” said Mike Tucci, president of North American Retail for the brand. “We view this store as a laboratory where we can handpick pieces and pilot emerging collections, while offering a more intimate and distinctive shopping experience. Today, we are very much of a women’s platform, but this gives us the opportunity to create a much more specific men’s aesthetic. That’s the mission.”

Tucci said for several years the company has been “fine tuning the men’s assortment to balance the core men’s product with emerging opportunities that would appeal to the style conscious and fashion-oriented man.” This effort has “gained traction” in the U.S. as well as in Japan and China, he added. As a result, Coach moved to capitalize on the success by seeking “select spaces for men.”

Until this store, Tucci said men’s product has been housed in retail locations alongside the dominant women’s product. Within the company’s concept stores, such as the one at 595 Madison Avenue, men’s is sold in a shop-within-a-shop. “But now we want to see what it can do if it stands on its own,” he said.

The new focus on men’s is the latest move in Coach’s diversification strategy that has resulted in lines such as the youthful spirited Poppy collection with more approachable price points. In 2007, the Coach Legacy retail store bowed on Bleecker Street, featuring bags, shoes and accessories inspired by Coach’s heritage and classic icons.

The men’s business for Coach centers on bags — “from travel to business to a more modern take such as totes and messenger bags,” Tucci said. “That’s our anchor. We also have a great wallet and small accessories business.”

Tucci declined to project how many men’s stores the company may ultimately open. “We’ll start with one and really live it,” he said. “We will drive very hard in this one location and understand the business fully. The easy part is to add more stores.”

The shop will offer business and travel accessories, small leather goods, footwear, outerwear, watches, sunwear, fragrance, and related accessories. To mark the opening, Coach will produce a limited series of graffiti-printed canvas totes that will be available exclusively at the West Village shop. Tucci said the store will also have “a handful of shoes and seasonal [apparel] categories such as T-shirts, swimwear, windbreakers and cold-weather products such as parkas. But we’re not going into the apparel business,” he said. “This will be a very small, tight space.”

Coach characterized the assortment in the store as “elevated” and “curated,” and said it will include limited edition product as well as outside collaborations. “We will do some additional silhouettes or archival styles in different leathers that will be exclusive to this location,” Tucci said. “We will also work with some outside people to offer their interpretation of the Coach bag and other things.”



Tucci said other retailers on Bleecker Street, including Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Brunello Cucinelli, give Coach the opportunity to offer higher-priced goods there. “We will stretch ourselves from a price point perspective,” he said.

The store will be designed by the Coach Architecture Group and will restore the building’s original copper finishes. It will also provide a nod to the history of the neighborhood by using antique finishes and repurposed materials. The company’s silver-leaf logo and custom cartouche detailing will be used for the windows and there will be mahogany awnings with contrasting white trim. The interior will be marked by natural wood flooring, industrial inspired furnishings, custom pendant lighting and leather seating vignettes.

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